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Showing posts from March, 2017

The Audacity of Hope

Last week I completed The Audacity of Hope by President Barack Obama in 2006.

In The Audacity of Hope, Mr. Obama shares some of his experiences as a citizen and politician while also laying out policy-driven solutions to improve the lives of Americans.

Granted The Audacity of Hope was written before Mr. Obama's first presidential election in 2008, his thorough understanding of the Nation's issues are impressive and difficult to overlook.

Mr. Obama, in an academic prose, but down-to-earth tonality, hits on national issues relative to our political system, constitutional interpretation, economics, military policy, education, and community development.

I found The Audacity of Hope to be one of the better books I have ever read on American politics and public affairs. Regardless of your politics, this is a good read with the capabilities to expand anyone's understanding of politics and government.

In fact, much of the information contained in The Audacity of Hope is still rele…

Rooftops and Retail

I had a meeting with a residential real estate developer earlier today whose firm has completed numerous successful subdivisions across the Southeastern U.S.

When I asked him about what his firm looks for in communities they want to invest in, he quickly mentioned three factors for their site selection:

1. Schools

2. Employment

3. Shopping

The quality of an area's Schools and accessibility to Employment are two site selection factors that I expected. However, Shopping Availability was a bit of a surprise to me initially, but it makes sense.

The fact that commercial development in area can be deal-breakers for significant investment indicates another reason why the presence of shopping and dining businesses are important  for communities.

Commercial development, and the recruitment and retention of retail and restaurants cannot and should not be overlooked.

While it is true that retail follows rooftops (classic supply and demand economics), the existing presence of retail in a comm…

Thou Shalt Develop Future Leaders

If we are serious about developing sustainable and vibrant communities then we cannot overlook the importance of youth leadership development.

As scary as it may sound, today's teenagers are tomorrow's leaders.

The more we professionals and adults expose the next generation to leadership concepts, cultivate stewardship in them, and prepare them to be responsible adults, the better we prepare those adolescents, and our communities, for prosperous longevity.

This understanding helps explain my excitement for the recent graduation of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce's 2017 Teen Leadership Cherokee Class.

I was fortunate to serve as Chair of the program this year. More than anything, in addition to the many community benefits associated with investing in youth, I enjoyed getting to know each of the 20 high school sophomores. I am excited to see what they do to improve the world.

If we really want to see our communities grow, improve, and remain vibrant, then we should n…

Commercial Real Estate Survey

Real estate, in numerous ways, is central to the process and profession of economic development. Real estate development is the lifeblood of a community's economy.

Economic development, by nature, is a deal-driven, project-heavy, and people-intensive field.

Last week I participated in a survey of economic developers around the U.S. by LeaseRef that sought to learn more about how economic developers help with real estate deals.
The survey results show that economic developers, myself included, face similar challenges and share similar sentiments about commercial real estate development. The data speaks for itself. 
Click this link to go the survey.



White House FY18 Budget Proposal

Today the White House released its budget proposal for FY18 titled, America First, A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.

As was expected, many of the recommendations by the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Study Committee were included.
The White House proposal prioritizes national security and public safety to the tune of $54B. However, this delivers a blow to non-defense federal programs. 
President Trump's first budget proposal calls for elimination of the following programs: Economic Development AdministrationMinority Business Development AgencyAppalachian Regional CommissionDelta Regional AuthorityDenali CommissionCommunity Development Block Grant ProgramNational Endowment for the ArtsNorthern Border Regional CommissionTIGER Discretionary Grant ProgramCommunity Development Financial Institution Plus, cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Program and the Rural Business Cooperative Service at USDA.
Interestingly enough, all of these programs are economic de…

More Alike Than We Know

Today I had the privilege of hosting 16 German exchange students around Downtown Canton.

It was a wonderful encounter that I will cherish forever. It is amazing how love, compassion, peace, and joy transcend race, culture, nationality, and creed.

We laughed, took pictures around some of Canton's historic landmarks, and discussed how ways of life differ between our two nations amidst many similarities.

I was equally amazed at how fluently these students spoke and understood English. They communicated with incredible command of the language.

Overall, it was a real honor to serve as a host of 16 intelligent students with bright futures ahead of them. It invokes a sense of celebration of peace and global diplomacy that exists in our world.

This level of peaceful relations will not make the news, but carries significant importance: Seventy something years ago this visit would not have been possible.

It is vital that we understand the importance of peace, respect, and goodwill for those…

Healthcare

In 2009, the US spent $2.5 trillion on healthcare. That number is growing faster than the economy. With a growing population and growing needs, our annual spending on healthcare will only increase.

Factor that with increasing deficits and the need to fund other programs and the magnitude of a national healthcare policy comes to light. 
I am not stating that Obamacare is right, nor that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is right.
However, the Congressional Budget Office released today projected that 24 million more Americans will be left uninsured 2026 by the AHCA than under Obamacare. That also includes 5 million people left uncovered by Medicaid by next year.
Regardless of the policy adopted, our national healthcare policy can always see improvement, not only for the sake of our fellow Americans, but also for the health of our economy. 
Federal spending that could go toward our military, technology, education, infrastructure, or reinvestment for entrepreneurship currently goes to h…

Keep Small Business at the Forefront

As an economic developer, I invest a significant portion of my day assisting small businesses.

When small businesses succeed, cities succeed.

That clarifies why officials in Avondale Estates, Georgia are thinking of ways to memorialize the founder of the city's most famous home-grown brand, Waffle House.

The founder of Waffle House, Joe Rogers Sr., passed away last Friday at 97.

Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore made a comment that city officials use the Waffle House's birth as one of their top bragging points.

That says a lot about the impact businesses have on their communities.

The iconic 24-hour restaurant was once a small businesses; a start-up diner.

Waffle House was founded in 1955, had six locations by 1961, and today there are 1,900 Waffle Houses around the US.

Cities cannot afford to neglect supporting small businesses: One day its a small operation and tomorrow it could be a into a multi-million dollar empire.

Fostering and developing small businesses should be…

Never Leave

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6
The Bible is filled with promises from God that He will not forget, nor neglect His children.

Thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus, those promises are true for anyone who believes in faith.

"Never Leave", shared below, was written and produced Michael Brooks. Brooks was an original member of Commissioned and wrote and produced many of their early songs. William Murphy ("Praise is What I Do") is the song's male leader.

I hope the track and lyrics remind you that, no matter where you are or what you are facing, God will never leave you-- in a jazzy and soulful way. Enjoy!



Goals of Comprehensive Planning

I spent the most of my afternoon at the offices of the Atlanta Regional Commission, the planning agency for the metro Atlanta region.

One of my coworkers and I were there to learn about upcoming planning grant funding and programs.

Being in the environment of planning propels me to share the common goals of comprehensive planning.

A comprehensive plan is a community's long-term master plan, typically extending to 20 years. To give you a better idea, I encourage you to look up the comprehensive plan for your community.

Because municipalities differ, the goals of their comprehensive plans are not the same. However, most comprehensive plan goals include:

Health- Achieve a pattern of land use that protects public health. Public Safety- Encourage land use that is safe and easy to navigate in case of emergencies.Circulation- Create a system of roads and parking facilities that allows efficient and rapid vehicular and pedestrian traffic.Provision of Services and Facilities- Determine the …